The meeting of the CCEE Commission for Social Pastoral Care took place on January 24 in the Colégio do Ramalhão in Sintra (Portugal). The Commission was renewed at the 2017 CCEE Plenary Assembly. The meeting, presided over by the President of the Commission, the Bishop of Trieste (Italy), Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, began with an evaluation of the work carried out in previous years. Subsequently, the Commission drew up a proposal of initiatives for the three sections within its competence (social issues, migration, and safeguard of creation), to be submitted to the Presidency and the next Plenary Assembly of CCEE – the ecclesial assembly of the Presidents of the thirty-nine Bishops’ Conferences members of the CCEE -, scheduled for September 13-19 in Poznań (Poland).
In the afternoon, the CCEE Commission visited the villages of Pedrogão Grande and Castanheira de Pêra, two towns which had been hardly affected by the fires last year, to witness the closeness and communion of the European Church with the inhabitants of this area, some of whom have lost members of their family and property. There the members of the Commission were able to see the great work of the diocesan Caritas of Coimbra in the front line both in responding to emergency situations and in supporting the most needy and helping to rebuild. The members of the Commission concluded the meeting with the celebration of the Holy Mass in the Shrine of Fatima, entrusting to Our Lady their work and the Churches in Europe.
Notes for the Press
About the fires in the areas of Pedrogão and Castanheira and in the center of the country
In June and October 2017, Portugal was hardly hit by a series of fires, in June in the Pedrogão Grande region and in October in the central part of the country.
The fire of Pedrogão Grande (June 17-22), which soon extended to the neighboring areas of Castanheira de Pera, Figueiró dos Vinhos, and Pampilhosa da Serra, caused the death of 66 people and 254 injured.
The fires that occurred on October 15 devastated much of central Portugal, leaving behind 45 dead and 70 wounded. Oliveira do Hospital, Tondela, Santa Comba Dão, Moncão, Lousea, and Seia are some of the worst affected areas. Many people have lost their home, their business, their fields, their crops, their livestock, or their firm.
Governmental and Church organizations have come together to address the immediate needs of the families, with a particular attention to the elderly.
In terms of environmental impact, the year 2017 saw the destruction of over 440 thousand hectares of forest, figures ever recorded so far.
About the CCEE Commission for Social Pastoral Care
The CCEE Social Pastoral Commission is made up of H.Ex. Msgr. Giampaolo Crepaldi, Archbishop of Trieste (Italy), elected as President of the Commission by the Plenary Assembly of last autumn (28th September – 1st October 2017) in Minsk. Archbishop Crepaldi is also leading the “Social Issues” section. The Commission intends to explore the themes and animate the network of bishops and persons responsible of the Bishops’ Conferences in the pastoral areas (sections) for which the CCEE Presidency appointed the following bishops as persons responsible last December: for “Migration,” Cardinal Anders Arborelius, OCD, Bishop of Stockholm (Sweden); for the “Safeguard of Creation,” H.Ex. Msgr. Angelo Massafra, OFM, Archbishop of Scutari-Pult and President of the Albanian Bishops’ Conference. The Secretary of the Commission is Fr. Luis Okulik, member of the clergy of Trieste.